Today the United Auto Workers called a national strike against General Motors. GM has already released a statement regarding its disappointment. The union and the corporation had been in long talks for quite a long time trying to ratify a new contract.
While most of the major media will likely look at this as a horrible event for both entities, I’m here to say that there is plenty of silver lining.
First and foremost, this means that production lines will stop putting out some of the most mediocre vehicles on the market. Let’s face it, the fewer poorly designed Impalas that enter the rental fleets and horribly built Hummers that fall into the hands of soccer moms, the better we all are.
Secondly, this provides an opportunity for members of the UAW to once again see how unions are bad for companies, workers…let’s just say they’re bad for everyone except for the executives of the unions who draw large salaries and bonuses. (It seems that the UAW membership needs a sub-union to negotiate with the UAW leadership for what really is in the best long-term interest of auto workers!)
As the UAW and GM are bleeding each other dry, the Japanese and European automakers will continue producing vehicles at non-union plants where job satisfaction, wages, benefits, job security and plant profits are all higher than Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop Festival.
Finally, this all shows that no matter how many times GM, Ford…or any Fortune 500 company says that “things are going to change”, they seldom do. When companies and unions recycle the same people, the same ideas and roadblocks that screwed things up in the first place, the same problems will keep coming back to haunt.
At some point, GM and UAW will need to accomplish a true paradigm shift — one where GM creates and maintains an environment where its employees feel more loyalty to the corporation than to the unions. Only then can the General build desirable, well-engineered vehicles that enable long-term corporate health.